Secretary of State Hillary Clinton couldnt have given this speech last night, when she was probably in shock. This morning, she was able to speak like a leader.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton couldn't have given this speech last night, when she was probably in shock. This morning, she was able to speak like a leader. Krista Kennell/Shutterstock

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At around 8:45 PST this morning, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave an iron-strong concession speech. She referred repeatedly to our "constitutional democracy," declaring first, foremost, and without reservation that:

Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead. Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transition of power and we don’t just respect that, we cherish it.

We also respect and cherish, she continued, "the rule of law," "freedom of worship," and that "we are all equal in rights and dignity"—and "we must defend them."

She addressed her grieving supporters, teary in the seats and the aisles before her, and she declared that the United States is a place of inclusion for people of all races, religions, for immigrants, "for LGBT people, and people with disabilities. For everyone."

"I'm sorry," she said, "that we did not win this election."

She stopped short of offering any take on why. Rather, she praised her campaign and supporters as "vast, diverse, creative, unruly, and energized." She delivered a heartfelt appreciation for the "graceful, determined leadership" of Barack and Michelle Obama. Plainly, she has learned from them since her run in 2012, and she was emulating them onstage this morning.

"This is painful, and it will be for a long time," Clinton said, "but I want you to remember that our campaign was never about one person or even one election. It was about building a nation that is hopeful, inclusive, and big-hearted."

Her voice never broke, but she sounded like my very strong mother in those moments when I can tell that it's hardest for her to be a parent rather than just a person. She was trying to disallow despair.

And then she addressed the girls and women.

"I know we have still not shattered that highest, hardest glass ceiling, but one day someone will and hopefully sooner than we might think right now," she said. "And to all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams."

There was quiet sobbing, and open weeping, in the room.

Obama speaks next.